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Strategic Focus: How Leaders Can Achieve More in Less Time

Updated: Jan 11

Can you relate to the feeling of having an overwhelming to-do-list and not enough time? 🙋🏽‍♀️


While chatting with my soon-to-be 10 year old niece, she expressed the same sentiment - “Nejat, I have so much to do and not enough time”. I smiled at first, empathized with her, and then asked "Where can we magically find an extra two or three hours?” We both laughed. Truth is though, majority of us, leaders or not, experience this time crunch in our personal as well as professional lives.


The common struggle of having lengthy to-do list and not enough time is a challenge we all face. The reality, however, is that we are all bound by the same 24 hours constraint. The key realization is that we can't control time itself, we can’t manage time itself; instead we can focus on how we manage our priorities and activities.


We can’t manage time. We can, however, manage our focus. We can choose which activities to prioritize, which activities to focus on and which activities to intentionally ignore.


Here are two steps I found very helpful to managing focus and being more productive. These two steps help leaders go beyond a to-do-list, achieve more with less, and master time.


1. Prioritize to Thrive - Strategic Focus


Identify the KEY activities that matter the most and need to be prioritized. Not all activities are the same and it’s impossible to fit all of the activities into your schedule. Instead, step back and list at all of the activities that you currently spend time on, activities that are on your to-do list, and activities that you are currently focusing on. Then objectively assess and identify the activities that matter the most, the ones you should focus on and the ones you should intentionally ignore.


1.1. A Leader's Secret to Maximizing Results : The 80-20 Rule


A great rule that can help you in this process is the Pareto Principle. The Pareto Principle aka the 80-20 rule states that about 80% of your results come from ONLY 20% of your activities. It is simple but not as easy as it sounds; because the difficulty for most is not in understanding the concept, rather in correctly identifying the 20% key activities that lead to more results.


The 80-20 rule is simple but not as easy as it sounds; because the key is not understanding the rule, rather, it is correctly identifying the 20% key activities that lead to 80% of results.

So the first step to achieving balance and being more productive is to identify which 20% of your activities are important, which activities are getting you more results and hence need to be prioritized. It may take time, more research and reflection to correctly identify these activities, but it’ll be worth it.


Once you identify which activities are important and are priority for you, your next focus is to make sure you give time and focus to these activities. Many people mistakenly believe that a to-do list is a helpful tool. Although it may be in some cases, having these activities listed on your to-do list will not guarantee that you will do these activities. If it is not on the calendar, it is not going to happen.


If it is not on the calendar, it is not going to get done and it will not happen.

2. Guard Your Time for Ultimate Productivity - Achieve More With Less


Never underestimate the battle between the urgent/unimportant and the important. The unimportant and the urgent things will always find their way to take your time. Your focus should then be not to fight these urgent things, rather to make sure the time needed for the key activities is blocked and protected.


How do you do that?


By blocking time for these important activities and guard that time

If you can block time for appointments with others, why not do the same for appointments with yourself and for the important activities that matter the most?

Many people block time for meetings with other people but not for activities they need to do on their own. If you have a key activity that needs to be done, block the time for it on your calendar. If you can block time for appointments with others, why not do the same for appointments with yourself and for the important activities that matter the most?


So decide when you will be doing the activities that matter to you and go ahead and block that time on your calendar. Once you have blocked the time for these activities, you are the guard responsible for protecting that time; do not let any other activities get scheduled at that time.


Once you have blocked the time for these activities, you are the guard responsible for protecting that time; do not let any other activities get scheduled at that time.

The benefit of blocking time is that it will help you ensure these key activities get done. it ensures that the time needed for these important activities is protected.



What about you? How do you stay productive and make the most of your time?



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